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In light of Apple's recent announcements about its maps app, the idea of another navigation app for the iPhone might seem redundant, but Apple's program will have a hard time matching the route guidance capabilities of Telenav's Scout.
This recent free navigation app builds on Telenav's extensive experience in mobile navigation. Telenav came up with a new interface design and made the app free as a way of competing in the increasingly cutthroat world of navigation software.
Scout's major drawbacks are that it is strictly an online app, and voice prompts require a $9.99-a-year subscription. I also found some aspects of the interface a little bit subtle, making it not always apparent how to find certain features of begin navigation.
Most people will find Scout's online requirement no problem, as the majority of navigating is done in places with a data connection. When I drove into an area with no cell reception, Scout's maps disappeared, although it did still show a line indicating my direction on the screen. Unlike some other navigation apps, Scout can not preload maps for a route.
The main interface combines a small map, a search box, points of interest, and buttons for home and work addresses. These latter buttons automatically compute the drive time for the home and work addresses saved in the app, showing these times right on the main interface. This feature can be particularly useful for people who want to determine the best time to head for work or home, as the drive times will take traffic into account if the app includes the voice guidance annual subscription.
When I first started using Scout, I did not notice any favorites or recent destinations list, and found myself looking up addresses repeatedly with the search box. Poking around the interface, I finally found that touching the Drive button took me to a screen with a recent destination list, a link to my phone's contacts, and similar saved addresses.
Similarly, after finding a destination with search, Scout brings up a nice little card for the place that includes the address, phone number, crowdsourced reviews, and a button to share the location through e-mail or text messaging. But there is no button that says "navigate" or "set this address as a destination." Instead, I had to touch the address on the screen, which caused Scout to calculate routes.
Scout offered three routes for each destination I chose, then required me to pick one of them and push the navigate button to begin route guidance. It seemed like a lot of steps to go through to begin navigation, but it was nice to have the multiple routes shown right from the start.
Without the voice prompt upgrade, Scout is a purely visual navigator, and does not take traffic into account. But it worked very well as long as I could clip the phone somewhere in the car where I could see it. Its turn instructions were easy to follow and shown well in advance of upcoming turns. It also shows maps in 2D or 3D views, at the driver's preference.
Adding the voice guidance subscription, Scout became much more useful. In fact, I found that I began to rely on it for most navigation, even if I already knew my route. With the upgrade, it does an excellent job of integrating traffic. Frequently I would start out on a trip, and Scout would announce that it adjusted the route based on a traffic problem up ahead. It is quite satisfying to go cruising down a clear road, imagining that somewhere nearby is a massive jam-up.
The voice prompts made it unnecessary to put my phone up on the dashboard, as they included the names of the streets on which I would be turning. These voice prompts also talked through multiple, close-together turns before I reached them, giving some advanced preparation. I was also able to turn off my iPhone's screen, saving its battery, and still hear the voice prompts.
On arriving at a destination, Scout does not automatically end its route guidance, which would be nice. Instead, I had to either touch the end trip button, which kind of disappears in the lower right hand corner of the route guidance screen, or shut down the app. Unlike some other navigation apps, Scout does not automatically resume a route when it is shut down then restarted.
One other feature that might keep Scout relevant once Apple's Maps app becomes generally available is its integration with the Scout.me Web site and in-car infotainment systems. The Web site is supposed to let users select destinations on their PCs and share them with the phone app. That would be useful when, for example, getting an e-mail with a physical address and pasting it into the Web site. However, the Web site is still in beta, and never linked up with my phone.
The other component of the Scout ecosystem, integration with cars, will have to wait until automakers implement the compatible software. Telenav has a strong working relationship with Ford, so I would expect it would be the first automaker to incorporate Scout. With full implementation, drivers should be able to find a destination using the phone app or Web site, and send it to the car's navigation system.
Scout for iPhone is all about you and your world on-the-go, making it easy to go places, get things done, and connect with people. Scout is the most personalized maps and GPS navigation app for iPhone. Scout now uses OpenStreetMapthe Wikipedia of mapswith a community of more than 1.6 million map editors working on making the map better all the time! NEW! People PowerNow that Scout is people powered so your maps will always be improving, NEW! You PowerYou can contribute to the community too! While you're driving around with Scout, be sure to report issues with the map or your trip so we can work with one of the millions of OSM editors to fix them pretty quickly.GO PLACESEasier to use designGet around the app much easier and faster with fewer taps to the important things like your Recents and saved Likes.Interactive Dashboard mapZoom and pan, see whats nearby, and get your traffic-based commute drive times right on the map, with one-tap navigation!Suggested places nearbyDitch the guesswork and save time by checking out the food and drink suggestions near you. The more you use Scout the better the recommendations get.Avoid trafficGet the most efficient routes with the least amount of traffic, one-tap adaptive rerouting to avoid jams, and street-level traffic views while reporting any traffic or police on your route to help fellow Scout users to avoid speeding tickets.Get free voice guidanceGet to your destination with free turn-by-turn, voice navigation, and just say Hey, Scout! to activate voice commands to search or drive hands-free.GET THINGS DONESearch Ahead while navigatingSearch for coffee, food, the cheapest gas, or popular chains when youre already on your way along your routeso you dont have to detour or backtrack!Add a pit stop along the wayWhen you find what you need with Search Ahead, tap to add it as a pit stop and be routed there. Scout adjusts your ETA and continues navigating you to your original destination when youre ready to get back on your way!Find the cheapest parking when you arriveGet the lowest-priced parking options on a map as you approach your destinationavailable in more than 100 cities in the US.CONNECT WITH PEOPLEShare and Like from the mapShare your location to check in or meet up easily with friends or add it for later in your Likes. You can even mark a spot on the map and share it by pressing and holding. No more where are you?? textsLet others know when youll be there and let them follow your real-time progress on a map with OnMyWay ETA-sharing. Get your questions answered with free, live support at http://ourcommunity.scout.me.--Whats the word on Scout?Scout is as easy on the eyes as it is easy to use. - MashableScout is my preferred iOS maps alternative. Joel Evans, ZDNetScout is immediately a commuters best friend. Jamie Lendino, PCMagazineScout wins Best for Design Travel & Leisure, Best GPS Apps for TravelNotes:Continued use of GPS running in the background can decrease battery life.Scouts map and search coverage is currently for the USA only.
What's new in this version:
Get around the app much easier and faster with fewer taps to the important things like your Recents and saved Likes. Search Ahead while navigating to find coffee, food, gas, or popular chains up ahead along your routenever behind or off track! Add a pit stop and be routed there. Scout adjusts your ETA and continues navigating you to your original destination when youre done! Find the cheapest parkingGet the lowest priced parking options on a map as you approach your destinationavailable in more... See all new features »